Nursing a spider bite, Michael Jackson limped into a Santa Maria, Calif., court yesterday (Dec. 3) with a bandaged and swollen foot to testify in a lawsuit that alleges he failed to follow through wit

Nursing a spider bite, Michael Jackson limped into a Santa Maria, Calif., court yesterday (Dec. 3) with a bandaged and swollen foot to testify in a lawsuit that alleges he failed to follow through with two millennium concerts. The 44-year-old entertainer testified that he could not recall details of the concert planning.

Despite the hobbling spider bite, Jackson appeared cheerful, waggling his fingers and sticking his thumbs in his ears while making comical faces at supporters in the courtroom. The trial is scheduled to resume today. He often seemed to be withholding a smile as he repeatedly responded to questions from a frustrated attorney for concert promoter Marcel Avram with the words "I don't recall."

"That's administrative work. That's not what I do. I'm the entertainer," Jackson said of the details involved in planning concerts. When attorney Louis R. "Skip" Miller asked if Jackson suffered from memory problems, he replied: "Not that I can recall."

Avram is suing Jackson for backing out of performances in Sydney and Honolulu on Dec. 31, 1999. The singer maintains it was Avram who canceled the shows over concerns they would not be profitable.

Fans gathered outside the Santa Barbara County courthouse shrieked with delight at Jackson's arrival in a van with four bodyguards. He emerged wearing only one shoe and immediately confronted a television cameraman, demanding that his left foot, clad in just a sock, not be photographed. At one point he put his hand over the camera lens.

"You're too close," Jackson said. The cameraman assured him it was OK, and Jackson responded, "Promise? Promise?" The entertainer arrived wearing a matching white satin vest and tie. Inside he put on a blue velvet jacket but never donned the surgical mask he usually wears over his face. He later explained he had a spider bite on his foot and it was swollen. "I love tarantulas, but not the little kind," the shoeless Jackson said.

On his way into the courthouse, he paused to kiss 11-year-old Laurae Tyler on the head and autograph her copy of "The Wiz" album.

Jackson's return to the witness stand followed a two-week absence during which he visited Germany and sparked worldwide outrage by dangling his infant son Prince Michael II from a fourth-floor hotel balcony. As reporters outside the courthouse shouted questions about the incident, Jackson autographed "The Wiz" album and looked up with an expression of apparent annoyance. "It's my child," he said. "I love my children."


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